I woke up on Mother’s Day this year and I thought to myself, it’s just another day, it’s just another day, it is just another day without my son and my heart aches the same. I waited so long to be a mom on Mother’s Day. Last year would have been my first and I was planning and thinking about it months in advance – even thinking about it when I was pregnant. I always felt like a mom, in fact, I called myself mom 2 when I was a teenager because I helped my mom so much with my younger siblings, the older ones too. Heck, I even mothered my own mom – being a nurturer feels normal and right to me. Am I not a mom anymore that my child is no longer on this earth? It is very hard to understand what is right or how to acknowledge a loss mom on this day. Saying “Happy Mother’s Day” may not feel right – I get it, I totally understand. I so appreciated those that did say those words to me or let me know that they were thinking of me. My son is not with me but, by not saying anything at all, it feels like he never existed. I was a mom. I am a mom.
So what did I do on Mother’s Day? I looked at photos and videos of my son, I talked to him and told him how much I love and miss him. I prayed that my parents are keeping an eye on Grey and loving him in Heaven. I prayed for a sibling for Grey. My husband and I talked about adoption and looked at some websites –more on our trying to conceive journey in later posts. I got in touch with mom’s I admire and love and told them happy Mother’s Day, I spent time with my family. I looked at select social media posts and found strength from other loss mom’s, their courage and hope is so up-lifting. One article that I found spoke directly to my soul, “Like many things in a grieving mother’s life, Mother’s Day is bittersweet to the nth degree. On one hand, I feel immense joy because I was blessed with my child and I feel gratitude for every moment I was given with [him]. On the other hand, the pain of missing my child – my greatest happiness, my life’s purpose, and my best friend – is intense.” You can read the full post at whatsyourgrief.com, A Mother’s Chorus: Grieving a Child on Mother’s Day. From one loss mom to another, to those who long to be a mom, to those who’s mom is no longer with us, I stand with you. I am sending you so much love, courage and strength.
I have been wanting to write about the few weeks following Grey’s passing, since I am writing this blog a little over a year from that time, I find it hard to remember what happened. I also realized that wanting to write in chronological order has made this post delayed as I don’t want to think back to those weeks. This I can say- the immediate after was utter devastation, confusion, shame and crying harder than I ever have, rivers of tears for hours on end. I tried to be strong for my husband and for our family that came over to comfort us. Someone would see that I needed a break and I would get taken for a drive or go on a walk and I would let my strength go and cry (wail really) and ask why? Over and over again, why? Our pastor came over to the house to plan Grey’s service and I told him that could literally feel my broken heart. An aching pain at the depths of my soul.
Our families, friends, co-workers and strangers rallied to comfort us and let me tell you, supporting a parent who has lost their child is so important. No one knows what to say, I don’t even know what to say, the most eloquent words I could come up with was/is usually string of curse words. One thing that is so important is simply, be present. Those that were around me could see my pain and I could see their hurt for me in their eyes, we were all aching together. I am so thankful to have the support of our friends and family because waking up every day –well, sometimes felt impossible.
I went on a search for answers. I visited my doctor, was there something that I missed? Was Grey sick and I didn’t see it? I was in communication with the investigators, a full investigation was conducted by the police and medical examiner. Did the babysitter do something to Grey? Was he sleeping safely? Was something covering his face, did he roll over? Did I put him in daycare too soon? This is my fault, I thought, I am supposed to protect my son. Who out there in the world has lost their baby? Why, why, why? I began scouring the internet to find similar stories and I, unfortunately, became a part of a community no one wants to be a member in. I got connected with local loss mom’s and started seeing my counselor regularly. Talking with other loss mom’s gave me great comfort and I became close to one who lives in Seattle. A very knowledgable lady who provided me with information about SIDS and research that is being done to help discover why babies go to sleep and not wake up (more about what I have learned in a later post).
I didn’t want to plan my son’s service. In fact, I was having the hardest time making any decisions. I am the type of person who will start cleaning to think. I was in the middle of deep cleaning our bathroom and I stopped in the middle of it, “what the hell are you doing?” I called my mother-in-law and asked her what I should be doing and she laid it out for me. I then changed my thinking, I don’t get to plan my son’s first birthday, this will be the biggest event I get to plan for him and I want to do it right. I want to throw him an event that he would be proud of – to honor him and show him how much mommy and daddy love him. Looking back, Stacy and I were happy with how it turned out.
I was told to; take care of yourself, get good sleep, drink lots of water and remember to eat. Losing a child is incredibly taxing on your body and soul. The grief manifests itself deep inside and I absolutely felt it physically – I still do. Stacy and I went out of town after Grey’s service, just to get away and have a change of scenery. We would be both going back to work when we returned and it turned out to be a good way for us to connect as a couple before getting back to our regular routine. If you are a loss parent who is reading this post I would give the advice that was given to me, take care of yourself. Be kind to your spouse or partner, lean on those that are close to you and remember that you are loved.
“The death of a baby is like a stone cast into the stillness of a quiet pool; the concentric ripples of despair sweep out in all directions, affecting many, many people.”
This post may be upsetting, trigger.
I was nearing the end of my maternity leave. I started back to work part-time, as a way to ease Grey, and myself, into daycare and our time apart. It was a Friday, his second full day at daycare. I dropped him off and headed to work. At lunch I had contemplated stopping by to visit as the sitter’s house was less than 10 minutes from work but I thought, it’s the weekend, I want to get him home early. That decision has endlessly haunted me. I had just gotten back from running errands during lunch. It was a little after 12:30 and I was showing a co-worker a video of Grey. He walked away and I noticed that I had missed a call, it was the babysitter. Before I had a chance to call back she called again,
“Grey’s not breathing!” she cried
“Ambulance is on the way”
I hung up the phone and ran out of the office. It had snowed the night before so the roads were slick and snowy, I was driving so fast and I didn’t care. I managed to call Stacy and tell him what was happening, not having any information for him as I just wanted to get to Grey. When I turned the corner I saw that the ambulance was already there. I ran into the house and saw my son on the floor. The EMT was already administering CPR and I went into a state of complete shock. My tiny, helpless son was surrounded by technicians and next thing I remember is them telling me that they were heading to the hospital. Did I want to ride in the ambulance or someone would drive me? “I am staying with my son!” I shouted. I had to be assisted to the ambulance and they put me in the front seat, not allowing me in the back with Grey.
Driving to the hospital I was just saying, “please, please, please, please” over and over, praying so hard for Grey to be ok. When we arrived, I saw my husband running into the hospital. The next moments are like flashes, getting escorted into the hospital, two hospital chaplains waiting for us, my husband arriving. I was hyperventilating and I heard him say under his breath, “be strong.” I took some big deep breaths of air and thought, this is the best hospital for children, Grey will be ok. Next thing I know, the doctor walked into the room and knelt down by Stacy, “I am sorry, your son is dead.” I just screamed and wailed. NO! No, no, no, no, no. How could this be happening? This isn’t real.
They told us that we could see him. We walked into the operating room and he was on the table. How could this be?! I embraced my son and kissed him and rubbed his head. I had my face to his cheek, kissing him and looking at him, “Grey?” He looked so peaceful, like he could wake up and look at me with his big, beautiful eyes. A police officer came into the room and said that he needed to examine Grey, we stepped out and my mother in law and Aunt had arrived.
The police officer informed us that they were conducting an investigation to find out what happened. He stated that at this point, they did not find any neglect on the part of the babysitter but assured us that a full investigation would occur. We went back into to OR to spend time with Grey and to say our final goodbyes. Leaving him was devastating, I didn’t want to. How could I leave without my son?
We went home and I went into Grey’s room, grabbed a handful of his clothes and blankets and laid in our bed. Our families and friends came over and I couldn’t move, they came into our room and hugged us, provided what support they could. That evening, after everyone left and Stacy was asleep I was still just, awake, confused, in shock. I called my best friend, Leah, and she came over right away. I hadn’t yet actually cried and that was bothering me. Realizing now that the shock was preventing me from that release. When she came over and it was just us I was able to let go – crying harder than imaginable. Also, my milk was in and way ready to come out- I was in pain from needing to breast feed. I left my pump at work so Leah went and bought me a pump at Target. I pumped, and cried, and cried and cried.
Why do I want to share the story of this day? Because after Grey died I scoured the internet looking for answers. What happened, why? What did other families experience? Why did my perfectly healthy baby go to sleep and not wake up? I was so grateful for the strong and brave moms out there that were able to share their stories. I hope that by sharing Grey’s story it may provide comfort and healing to other moms. As I am writing this post it has been over a year since that day and I have just found the strength to share. My love for Grey continues to grow and I will fight for him forever.
I loved my doctor, she was so warm and caring. She knelt down by my bed and I looked at her and said, “he so perfect, I want another.”
Grey’s scheduled birth day was December 20th, it was awesome knowing that he would celebrate his first Christmas with us that year. The day before I worked a half day, at lunch I said goodbye to my co-workers and headed home. I took the dog to the dog park and a woman came up to me, “When is the baby due?” she asked. “Tomorrow!” I said happily. We laughed and she hugged me and told me that was the first time she has gotten a response like that, it was a cute moment that we shared. Later that night I took a ton of selfies, my last few hours with the “bump.”
We woke up early the next day as we were scheduled to be at the hospital at 6 AM. I was getting ready and I heard Stacy downstairs and he seemed to be in distress. I walked down to the basement and saw what he was upset about, water. Our basement was flooded. Stacy found the problem, the sprinkler line burst. Good thing that we found the leak before leaving for the hospital as we knew we would be staying a couple of nights. After cleaning up we headed for the hospital, so ready to meet our son.
We went in to the OR, the nurse who gave me my epidural was so sweet and I remember her having the kindest eyes. I asked her to please get it in one try as the nurses earlier took about 4 tries to get my IV started. It was so amazing how quick everything went, after I was numb the doctor’s got started and next thing I knew I heard our son crying. They quickly showed him to us and then cut the cord and handed him to the nurse. I heard her say, “I need to hear another cry” which made me instantly worried. I asked if he was OK and then he cried again and she put him on my chest. What an incredible feeling. I know babies are born every day but when it is yours, it is just that much more magical.
The doctor’s worked to get me put back together and they discovered I had a small placenta accreta, this happens when the placenta attaches to the uterine wall. It can be a very serious medical condition that could result in an hysterectomy. So thankful that it was small and manageable but it took longer than expected to get us out of the OR, I think we were in there for over 2 hours. We stayed on the delivery floor that night to make sure that everything was going ok with my recovery. The next day they moved us to another floor and my doctor came to visit us. I was holding Grey when she came in, it was very early, still dark out. I loved my doctor, she was so warm and caring. She knelt down by my bed and I looked at her and said, “he so perfect, I want another.” I was 40 when I gave birth to Grey and I just wondered why did I wait so long?! I was so, so happy–the experience, the magic, the gift of life. We stayed one more night at the hospital and then headed home to enjoy the holiday with our son.
Stacy and I went to Maui in March 2016 for my aunt’s wedding. Neither of us had been there before and a vacation was so needed. I was working two jobs, my full time job in social work and weekends at a busy restaurant. I was working more at the restaurant to make extra money for our vacation and let me tell you, the stress level was high! When we landed in Maui we needed a few days to decompress and then the real relaxation began. We loved exploring the Island, the food, the beach and time with family. My aunt’s wedding was beyond beautiful, mesmerizing. We felt so lucky to be there. They had a wish sharing moment with the guests, here is what we read when we walked into the wedding….
I thought that was such a cute idea, my wish was for us to become parents. I wrote “to have a baby” on a beautiful piece of paper, wrapped in around a stone and tied with with red twine. All of the wedding guests threw our wishes into the ocean together and continued to have a wonderful night. When we got home I was on a vacation “high” I felt relaxed and calm and very happy for the following several weeks. We didn’t conceive while in Maui but I was not deterred. I decided to see an acupuncturist on recommendation from my aunt’s wife. On my first visit the acupuncturist said, “I’ll get you pregnant in 3 months!” Well, I don’t know if it was her, our vacation, or simply the right timing but I got pregnant the night of my first visit to the acupuncturist. On May Day I took a pregnancy test and it was positive, I couldn’t believe it! All the stars were aligned and my wish was finally realized. I had the absolute best pregnancy, I felt amazing, received so much love from my husband, family and friends. I remember I would laugh and laugh when I was pregnant and I would think, “this is so good for my baby.” I also loved sharing our conception story, I imagined Grey getting so sick of me telling everyone about it. My pregnancy did have some complications, gestational diabetes and full placenta previa which meant, no labor. When I got the news I couldn’t have a vaginal birth I was so disappointed, but you know, pregnancy is not something that can be planned. What is most important is that mom and baby are safe and healthy, once I realized that the planned c-section, while still scary, was greatly anticipated.
“I didn’t want to kiss you goodbye, that was the trouble; I wanted to kiss you goodnight. And there’s a lot of difference.” Ernest Hemingway
Hi my name is Sasha, I live in the Great Pacific Northwest with my husband, Stacy, our 2 dogs and our beautiful angel baby, Grey. We had 87 magical days with our son before he was taken from us by the mystery of SIDS on March 17th, 2017. The days and months since his passing have been the most challenging times I have ever experienced. I get asked sometimes, “How do you do it?” or “I couldn’t imagine,” and honestly, I agree! I can’t imagine and I don’t know. I think about the love I have for my son and it simultaneously fills me with incredible joy and crushing sadness. One thing I know for sure, I am so thankful for my support system; my husband, family, friends and co-workers. I am thankful for the other SIDS mom’s I have met and the internet, really, the internet! Reading other families stories, seeing normal people affected by SIDS and how they are coping makes this journey a little less isolating. This blog is my way of honoring my son and his beautiful time with us, because really, all I want to do is talk about him everyday. I want him to be proud of me. Sharing his story and my journey feels right, no matter how terrified I am to do it.